Wednesday, 4 May 2016

A birthday lunch at Cranks vegetarian restaurant, Dartington

Thank you so much for all your birthday presents, phone
Willow tunnel at Dartington 

calls, messages and emails yesterday! It's official - I'm forty-one :-( Eeek!

As mentioned in my previous post about the unusual shops there, we did return to Dartington for my birthday lunch. Cranks restaurants started in London in the 1960s and Dave remembers them being the first real vegetarian eateries. Dartington is now the only one left of the chain as the general popularity of vegetarian food meant too much competition for the London branches and apparently it is not truly independent anymore, but part of the Nando's grocery group. Cranks still serves excellent food though!

I had Aubergine Charlotte which was lots of tangy feta
Aubergine Charlotte at Cranks 
cheese and juicy mushrooms in a delicious aubergine wrapping. Dave had the seasonal tart which was spinach and mushroom. Both were served with Cranks Salad - actually portions of four different salads - so the whole meal was filling and good value at about £11 each including a drink - I can recommend the Vanilla Steamer. Service is cafeteria style so we could actually see the various options before ordering and the place was nicely busy - buzzing, but not uncomfortably packed. I would definitely go there again.

Parking at Dartington is 50p for an hour or £1 for four hours (and contrary to the car park sign, you can now get a parking refund at Cranks subject to a spend of over £10) so we thought we would make the most of it by walking some of the Sustrans off-road path towards Totnes. The path goes through woodland carpeted with bluebells, primroses and wild garlic flowers. We also saw a patch of kingcups - essentially giant buttercups. Interesting fauna was limited to a single yellow wagtail and a tiny brown and cream warbler-type bird that will probably be forever unidentified.

I was impressed to see a working waterwheel on the side of an architect's offices, then at the edge of the Dartington Estate we found the above pictured  willow tunnel over a boardwalk leading to an observation space. There wasn't actually much yet to observe, though signs of work underway for a nature conservation area. I thought boardwalk markings for www.greenspace.co.uk would lead us to information, but they turn out to be the company that made the boardwalk!

Further along the River Dart, I was very excited to discover
Looking across the River Dart 
the Totnes Hydropower Scheme. Completed in December and now, I think, just in the final landscaping phase, this project utilises a pair of Archimedes Screws - just like we saw at Cragside last year - to create enough hydroelectric power for a school and nearly 300 homes. How fantastic is that?! The power house building also incorporates a fish ladder to enable and encourage salmon and sea trout, and will have a canoe launch and natural recreational areas. I was so amazed to see this technology we had previously admired working in its historical setting actually being put to use here for the future. Well done Totnes!

A final note on a completely different subject: Dave has just renewed his Kaspersky anti-virus software and, as a thank you and a promotional thing, Kaspersky have a special offer for any new customers he recommends. Please Use This Link to buy your new software at up to 50% off the usual price. You will also receive a £5 Amazon voucher and Dave will get a £10 Amazon voucher. Woo hoo!

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